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Politics vs Pragmatism - Safe Injection Sites & Needle Exchanges

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posted on Aug, 15 2006 @ 04:13 PM
The operating licence for Vancouver's Insite program expires September 12. With our Conservative government, there are some serious concerns that it will not be renewed.

It's easy to sit back and say 'Drugs bad' and cut the funding when you don't live here. I remember several years ago when we had more than 10 people die within one month because of a bad batch making the rounds. The sharing of needles is an easy way to spread HIV. Public washrooms have white LED lights because they have a blue tint and make it harder for users to find their veins. Broken needles are found in playgrounds.

Vancouver's safe injection site, while not popular with everyone, really made a difference. It serves 600 people a day. Lives have been saved, crime has not increased in that area and needles are never shared and are disposed of in a safe manner. Users are being directed to rehab. It has been a success. And it's in danger of being shut down.

Harper has now put the kibosh on a needle exchange in Canada's prisons. Yes, they aren't supposed to have drugs or get tatoos in jail, but we all know that's not the way it really is. Sometimes, reality sucks.


I was actually going to post something nice about Harper today, and not even mention the fact that he didn't bother to attend the AIDS conference in Toronto. But then I thought about it and decided that someone who puts their small-minded views above saving lives and taxpayer money (AIDS patients are expensive, as are ambulances rides for junkies who have OD'd) so they look tough on crime isn't worth it.

What happened to pragmatism?

posted on Aug, 18 2006 @ 03:58 PM
Duzey, let me throw the other side of the coin at you: junkies cause a LOT of crime, so expenses are in addition to what you mentioned. Heroin addicts usually can't hold down a solid job. I know meth is bad, but let me throw you the Frontline statistic:

In Oregon, a staggering 85 percent of property crime, as well as a majority of muggings, car thefts and identity thefts, have been linked to meth.

The junkies need their fix. I like the idea of rehab...the idea, is however, is as far as I'd go. What is the cost, compared to the amount of people who fall off the wagon again? I like the safe-needle zone. I really do. What'd be really good would be repealling the Mental Health Act, for starters, and opening government-run detox centers. Sometimes you have to hurt folks to help 'em, and Lord knows that leaving them to the needle and the cold is hardly better than locking them up and *forcibly* cleaning them out. I'd reserve that only for criminals caught under the influence, especially in the case of crack or meth or heroin dealers.

That's another good point- addicts are often in and out of jail, caught on minor offences. They get out, do whatever they have to to get more rock, and end up back in jail a week later for trying to steal a car or pawn their children or whatever.

My ideal solution would be to let police and corrections officers classify people as habitual users and recidivists, and suggest commuting their prison time to an indefinite stay in rehab.


posted on Aug, 20 2006 @ 01:40 AM
I can't really argue that addicts don't commit crimes, because I don't like lying.

I can, however, say that the Vancouver Police Department was a partner in the establishment of Insite and supports the renewal of the operating licence. Any addict in that area that refuses to use Insite is arrested. The downtown Eastside is an absolute mess and before Insite, people would shoot up right on the street. You don't see that anymore. Before I wouldn't go down there on foot for any reason, now I can walk about in the daytime and not worry (I still wouldn't walk around there at night).

I'd be all in favour of court-ordered rehab if we actually had spaces for these people. But we don't and that's a big part of the problem right there.

Insite was never meant to reduce crime, it was meant to keep people from dying in an alley and leaving their needles in playgrounds. The catchphrase the city uses is harm reduction.

posted on Sep, 7 2006 @ 12:03 PM
Yes DeusEx there is a strong link between drugs and crime. Apparently anything between 33% and 82% of people arrested test positive for drugs (depending on the area)

However the main reason why drugs cause crime is that because they are harmful they are illegal and because they are illegal they are expensive; which makes absolutely no difference if you addicted. All it means is that you will shag more dirty old men at night if you’re a woman, or steal-rob more things if you’re a guy.

My solution to this problem…
Is a pragmatic political contradiction; I believe that undercover police should sell drugs to the market; but at the same time drugs like heroin should still be illegal. Think about that; the police would be to…
1. Arrest all the competition
2. Bring the price down (hence reducing crime)
3. Ultimately cull their own climates by sending them to rehab. To make this practical you have to make this slightly inefficient; instead of having an undercover drug dealer get rid of his own clients directly (then they might want to kill him; and anyway his undercover status is sussed) you would have a competing undercover drug dealer sanction it; only the undercover drug dealers themselves would never be arrested (just their clients).
4. Ideally you don’t want the undercover drug dealers busting their own clients at all; instead you want a law where anybody can report anybody as a drug user; where that person can then forcefully tested and dealt with.

This is radical combination of ideas but if you think about it; it has all the advantages of total legalisation of all drugs (no matter how harmful) without actually loosing the key benefits of keeping those same drugs illegal.

The key benefit of making drugs illegal is that you can arrest people who use those drugs; and hopefully treat them. It is not that it does anything much to effect basic availability. I myself spoke pot whenever I like (which isn’t often).
Even so I know several dealers, one of them I can even ring up and have him come and meet me in street (providing I don’t use any obvious words on the phone). It really wouldn’t be difficult for me to order heroin if I wanted too. And frankly it’s because drugs are illegal that I’ve been tempted by various people to explore different things. As it happens that the only two drugs I’ve ever done are pot and mushrooms; I’ve considered ecstasy but thought “even though it’s very unlikely to kill me I don’t know what other effects it might have on my brain.” Apparently it can do all sorts of things which permanently affect your intelligence-thinking; and more rarely even your personality.

So what I'm saying is that of course safe needles are a good idea. After all it might be perfectly “serves you right” for a heroin prostitute to pick up aids; but what when she shags some middle aged man who then passes it to his unknowing wife?
Without clean needles this sort of thing happens all the time.

I'm also do you think we need a more radical approach with isn’t (the now) quite boring arguments of total legalisation verses total criminalisation? Which might just reduce the cost of drugs; without actually loosing society the right to treat dangerous addicts?

[edit on 090705 by Liberal1984]

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